Should I Stay Or Should I Go
insert rock band miming.
Max Pacioretty is the last Michigan hockey player who hasn't announced his intentions to return for the 2008 season. When last we left our budding power forward, he was torn:
Heard it from a very good source that he would like to sign and that Montreal wants him but the family will have none of it. At this point, put the chances of him returning for his sophomore year at about 80%.
That was The Wolverine's Mike Spath about three weeks ago. Pacioretty is now at Montreal's rookie camp and... sigh(?)... impressing:
And Canadiens director of player recruitment and development Trevor Timmins was on the ice, watching his recent draft choices - plus a few free agent signings - skate through their paces.
Timmins spoke glowingly of Max Pacioretty, telling journalists "as you can see out on the ice surface, he's a big, strong, powerful athlete" who's a strong skater and likes to hit and finish his checks. Timmins thinks Pacioretty is "physically ready" to turn pro but has to work on aspects of his game, either as a University of Michigan sophomore or a Hamilton Bulldogs rookie.
At least Montreal isn't dangling a chance at the NHL at Pacioretty. If he's eyeing the AHL... well... that's a far less appealing alternative. Further quotes from Pacioretty, however, indicate he's open to the Bulldogs:
Pacioretty said "this is a big summer for me." He trusts the Canadiens to offer sound advice on whether he should turn pro or go back to Michigan.
"I couldn't tell you right now. We have to talk more about it and figure out how they (Canadiens) feel and that'll help my decision." Pacioretty is aware that the big club could use a power forward. "I think that's where they see my upside," Pacioretty said. "I'm able to play a more physical role. But I've got a lot of work to become a power forward."
Eek. Spath says Montreal wants him to sign, Pacioretty says he'll do what the Canadiens want him to do... 1 + 1 = dammit. HOWEVA, maybe Spath's source was premature? This article makes it sound like Montreal is expecting him to return to Ann Arbor (emphasis mine):
Trevor Timmins, the Canadiens' director of player recruitment, said yesterday that Pacioretty is physically capable of playing in the NHL, but the smart money says the Connecticut native will be a Wolverine for at least one more season.
Pacioretty, who is projected as a power forward, said as much yesterday when members of the media told him about Timmins's statement. While he said his strength was one of his assets, he also said he might have a way to go before he can battle along the boards with the likes of Georges Laraque.
Pacioretty had an outstanding season at Michigan. He played on Michigan's top line with Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik, both of whom have signed contracts with the Phoenix Coyotes.
"Playing with those guys definitely helped," Pacioretty said. But Timmins and Pacioretty both feel the youngster will be able to survive - and thrive - in the wake of the departures.
"I was the guy doing the dirty work in the corners and I think that I'll be able to play a more offensive role now that they're gone," Pacioretty said.
"He's lost two outstanding linemates, but this will give him a chance to showcase his talents," Timmins added.
Spath's 80% now seems like 60% to me, but the above passage contains direct quotes from the two people closest to the situation that assume Pacioretty's hockey will be played at Yost this fall. Still... Michigan Hockey Summer and all that. We should know sometime soon, at least, as I doubt Montreal will drag out the decision much past the next couple weeks.
Also, in a BCS-like move that comes one season too late:
Also, the Division I Men's Ice Hockey committee will recommend that teams be required to have a .500 record or better to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Wisconsin, of course, made the tournament (as a three-seed!) despite being under .500 and got to play at home. No more of that.